If you could ask for one thing for the planet this Christmas, what would it be? For the past few years, Green Santa has been receiving messages from children around the world describing what they want for the planet at Christmas.
The Green Santa project was first launched in 2019 by Dr. Laura Kehoe, a sustainability researcher at the University of Oxford, who has been working to find ways to support the living world since she was a teenager.
The emergence of Green Santa comes at a time when young people are particularly stressed out about the ecological and climate crises. A recent survey revealed that nearly three quarters (73%) of 8 - 16 year olds said they are worried about the state of the planet right now - including 22% who say they are very worried.
Green Santa is the sustainable and environmentally friendly older brother of the Santa Claus we all know and love, and this Christmas he is receiving Christmas wishes for the planet with families sharing their letters and drawings on social media by using #GreenSanta.
These environmental issues are shared by children all over the world and this year, WMF decided to get involved and ask children at our Thandizo centre what their wishes to Green Santa would be. The children were very excited to take part and shared some great ideas from Malawi.
What did the children ask for?
Thokozani asked Green Santa to protect the fish in Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is one of the deepest lakes in the world and is famous for being the home of many hundreds of fish species. The lake is considered globally important for biodiversity conservation due to the huge diversity of its fresh water fish species.
Godfrey asked Green Santa to help stop the flooding in Malawi. Malawi is considered highly vulnerable to climate variability and the country's Department of Climate Change and Meteorological services has warned that these problems will continue. Flooding has a terrible impact on the agricultural sector and has led to increasing levels of poverty among smallholder farmers. Since agriculture is important to Malawi's economy overall, these issues also affect others in the country too indirectly.
Hanke decided to ask Green Santa for more trees to be planted in Malawi. The country has a diverse variety of trees - the baobab tree is just one example that is highly valued in southern Africa and has become famous all over the world. Although efforts have been made to stop illegal logging, which has has led to a huge loss of trees, the danger of deforestation in Malawi is growing. If deforestation continues at its current rate, Malawi could be stripped of all trees by as early as 2079.
Shukulani asked Green Santa to protect the elephants in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Sadly, due to poaching, erosion of their habitat loss and other human activities, these beautiful animals are disappearing across Africa. According to the charity Save the Elephants, around 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory in just three years between the years 2010 and 2012. Thankfully, Malawi has had a successful track record in recent times in revitalising the elephant population through its 500 Elephants initiative. At present, there are more than 400 elephants in the reserve and they are thriving.
The Green Santa campaign has been a great success this year and has even attracted attention from major media organisations such as Sky News. WMF recognises that the issues being discussed as part of Green Santa are equally important to children in Malawi and is looking forward to taking part in future events.
“We want everybody, not just kids, to write letters to Green Santa about what they want to happen to make the world a happier and healthier place.” says Dr. Laura Kehoe, sustainability scientist at the University of Oxford and founder of Green Santa, “We can get caught in a trap of focusing on what we are against, this is a refreshing and empowering way to allow ourselves to envision what we are for.”